New York City, Las Vegas, London. Most championship level boxing takes place within these three cities and even more so, even with the truly global sport that is the sweet science, the matches with the most meaning are taking place from the Prime Meridian and westward.
Once in a great while however we get the “Thrilla in Manila” in the Philippines and “Rumble in the Jungle,” in Zaire (Congo)
Yet even with the all the great talent coming from places like the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia, Japan, etc. most of the championship competition stays in the west.
Now the simple answer to that question is money, of course.
Boxing is also a business and the sport, the business, and everyone else involved simply do better when boxing specifically in the west and more accurately in the aforementioned triad of title fight cities.
Notwithstanding, for a while, through some vanity and good fortune, the eastern hemisphere will have the scales tip in it’s favor with a highly anticipated matchup this weekend.
Boxing’s only eight-division world champion and lock hall of famer, Filipino Manny Pacquaio (59-7-2 38KO) attempts to seize the secondary WBA regular welterweight title from hard-hitting and heavily tattooed Argentinian Lucas Matthysse (39-4 34KO 1NC). The match takes place in Axiata Arena in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The southeast Asian country hasn’t seen a major fight since Muhammad Ali defended his title against Joe Bugner in 1975.
The fight isn’t without it’s controversy and skewed skepticism.
Pacquaio’s MP Promotions, who is promoting the fight with some assistance with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, had missed several financial deadlines, preventing a pay-per-view matchup.
As for the boxer himself, Pacquaio severed contacts with long time trainer, hall of famer in his own right, Freddie Roach in favor of longtime compatriot and colleague Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez.
Both Pacquaio and Matthysse, ages 39 and 35 respectively, while still being seen as excellent fighters, many wonder their place in a welterweight division that is getting ever younger and currently captivated in both attention and titles by the likes of Keith Thurman, Errol Spence, and the most recent champion Terence Crawford.
Crawford is seen by many, including here at Boxing News and Views, as one of the world’s top pound-for-pound fighters, who easily dismantled and dethroned Australian Jeff Horn.
Horn however you viewed his tactics, Pacquaio’s age, or the notion that Pacquiao should have possibly earned a stoppage victory in the ninth round, officially defeated ‘Pacman’ for the WBO welterweight crown last year in Brisbane, Australia.
With the money recently confirmed and the match given it’s final green light, boxing fans will hopefully be treated to something memorable in Malaysia.
The Pacquaio-Matthysse event will feature many Asian fighters including three more title bouts in the featherweight and flyweight divisions (albeit some terrible WBA secondary belts), and will have coverage on ESPN+ in the U.S. and BoxNation in the U.K.